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The Consumption Terms of Trade and Commodity Prices

In: Commodity Prices and Markets, East Asia Seminar on Economics, Volume 20

  • Martin Berka
  • Mario J. Crucini

Movements in a nation's terms of trade are widely viewed as important for the understanding the sources of business cycle fluctuations, the dynamics of the trade balance and economic welfare. Backus, Kehoe and Kydland (1994) emphasize the role of productivity movements in a two-country, two-good setting. In their model an increase in domestic productivity expands out- put at home relative to output abroad and the terms of trade deteriorates. Put differently: a large country expanding the supply of the traded good it produces must (in equilibrium) drive down the relative price of its prod- ucts on world markets. The importing country's terms of trade improves, a positive spillover. Backus and Crucini (2000) add a third region to this model; a region that specializes in oil production. When the oil region cuts back production, the relative price of oil rises, a terms of trade improvement for oil producers. Output falls in the oil importing regions because oil is an intermediate input into production of the two manufactured goods produced in those regions. The business cycle implications of this model are consis- tent with empirical work by Hamilton (1983) showing oil price increases in advance of U.S. recessions. Mendoza (1995) studies the terms of trade and business cycles in an extensive cross-country panel using a partial equilibrium business cycle model where terms of trade movements are exogenous. In his theoretical setting, terms of trade shocks are analogous to lotteries with the sign and magnitude of the payout dependent upon a country's pattern of specialization across an array of internationally traded goods.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Takatoshi Ito & Andrew K. Rose, 2011. "Commodity Prices and Markets, East Asia Seminar on Economics, Volume 20," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ito_09-1, May.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11871.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11871
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Rogers, John H., 2007. "Monetary union, price level convergence, and inflation: How close is Europe to the USA?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 785-796, April.
    2. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1992. "Dynamics of the trade balance and the terms of trade: the S-curve," Working Paper 9211, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    3. Mendoza, Enrique G, 1995. "The Terms of Trade, the Real Exchange Rate, and Economic Fluctuations," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(1), pages 101-37, February.
    4. Frankel, Jeffrey & Parsley, David & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2005. "Slow Passthrough Around the World: A New Import for Developing Countries?," Working Paper Series rwp05-016, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. Yael S. Hadass & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "Terms of Trade Shocks and Economic Performance 1870-1940: Prebisch and Singer Revisited," NBER Working Papers 8188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Hamilton, James D, 1983. "Oil and the Macroeconomy since World War II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 228-48, April.
    7. David K. Backus & Mario J. Crucini, 1998. "Oil Prices and the Terms of Trade," NBER Working Papers 6697, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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